I think we would all agree that it is never easy to make a change, any change, in life. When contemplating divorce, the stakes are raised significantly higher since this experience is a life transition that brings with it a plethora of changes that can spark tremendous fears. For homemakers, in particular, fear is often the overriding factor that can shake one's confidence and sense of well being.
While fears can be numerous and differ based on individual circumstances, here are four common ones along with suggestions for feeling more empowered.
1. Economic Fear
For many homemakers, one of the greatest worries is financial. The most common questions being, will I have enough money to take care of myself and my children? This is a very realistic concern. If you've been a stay-at-home mom, which is a common decision made by numerous women once they have children, then your job has been the raising of children and managing of a home, versus being a part of the work force. Many women opt to give up careers in order to become full-time moms. The good news is that you have opted to put one hundred percent into raising your kids. The challenging news is that your partner is the one who is making the money. Here are a few things for you to know as well as a few steps to take that can set you on the right path to strengthen your position for independence. First, depending on which state you live in, there are laws that protect the "un-monied" spouse (the one that has not worked and has stayed home to raise children) in the form of spousal support and child support. Generally, there are formulas used to estimate how much you should be paid and for what length of time. In general, spousal support is based on the length of the marriage, the level at which you have been accustomed to living as well as other factors. Child support is based on formulas that have to do with the number of children, who has custodial custody and other specific factors. Again, these are generalities that can differ by state. Your attorney can give you more factual information.
2. Getting Back into the Workforce
Financial circumstances will almost always be affected after divorce. With the economy being what it is, it's hard enough for a family to make ends meet with one residence and one income provider. After divorce, most couples will find themselves living in two domiciles with twice the home expenses, such as housing, separate insurance costs, vehicle, household expenses, etc. One of the most common fears I hear expressed by homemakers getting divorced is "how do I get back into the workforce?" It can be very daunting contemplating the idea of going back to work after years of being home. The two overriding factors that cause anxiety for full-time homemakers include not being a full-time stay at home mom for the kids, and being uncertain about qualifications in a changed job market. While the solutions are multifaceted, I would like to suggest that it all begins with taking a deep breath and realizing that such a change is a slow process. A good first step is to start off small. If you haven't worked in a while, or are unsure where to begin, start with a part time job, either in the area that you may already have experience or in a new area. Don't focus on the pay or even the position itself. This is just a way to get your feet wet and start the process, Believe it or not, this will build confidence while getting you acclimated to a new "out of the home" routine and having your own money.
3. Juggling Motherhood and Work
Feeling overwhelmed is one of the most common issues expressed by many divorced moms. Whether it's balancing being there for kids with a work schedule or managing the pressures of an apartment or house, divorced moms often feel like they are constantly being pulled in a variety of directions. While I wish I could tell you that you shouldn't feel overwhelmed, I think the more important advice to be given here is that there are ways to manage this very real feeling. In most cases, there just doesn't seem to be enough "me" to go around or enough time to get everything done. However, I assure you, there are plenty of small moments to stop, and decompress.
Just taking five to ten minutes throughout the day to breathe intentionally can do wonders. Did you know that deep breathing can reset the brain? Calm deliberate breathing can send a message to the brain that you are calm, even if you are feeling stressed, and in turn, allow your body and mind to actually relax. A frenetic, worried state only prolongs feeling overwhelmed, so incorporating relaxation techniques can reset yourself and take the focus off of the many "to do's" you may have. A great go-to breathing technique is the 5-5-7 breath. Breathe in for a count of five; hold the breath for five and then breathe out powerfully to a count of seven. Do this five or six times whenever you feel the weight of the world. Another great way to calm yourself is a technique called havening. According to Dr. Steven Ruden and Dr. Ronald Ruden, the creators of the technique, the use of therapeutic touch can help treat mental health symptoms by changing pathways in the brain linked to emotion. Havening is a way to self-soothe. With crossed arms, gently but noticeably stroking from shoulders to elbows. You can also rub the palms of your hands together in a circular motion, This is all to create a sense of wellbeing and safety, which can lessen feelings of overwhelm.
4. Being Alone
Then there is of course, the overarching fear caused by the idea of being alone or without companionship...ever! Divorce takes you from a state of having a partner to not. For many, this can cause feelings of loneliness and the belief that you will always be alone. This can be very frightening and even exacerbated if your soon-to-be or former spouse is already in another relationship. Finding companionship with a new person and rebuilding the romantic part of one's life is all part of the healing process. One of the first steps to healing and building a new life is to reconnect with yourself. Learning how to be kind to yourself, love yourself and appreciate the wonders of who you you are will build your confidence and attract people to you that will enhance and fill your life.
There is life after divorce in spite of the fears felt leading up to and through the process. Facing one scary issue at a time with self love and patience will enable you to reset, restart and rebuild.
Love & Light,